Monk Level Advancement Combat Competitive Advantage


Is there a fair way to give a character monk an advantage in the monk’s combat to advance a level in AD&D 1st edition? What has worked for you?


A Fair Competitive Advantage would be some inherently, built-in advantage like more hit points than the opponent. Or it could be an unarmed combat choice of skills per attack. But it does not allow a magic item which would violate the Lawful code of the Monk’s combat.


  • Unearthed Arcana (UA) describes Vanquishing as non-lethal combat on p109.
  • Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) describes Pummeling Grappling Overbearing on p72-73. It states,

"Monks: Even if grappled, pummeled, or overborne, monks are able to conduct open hand combat normally until stunned or unconscious."

  • The Player’s Handbook (PB) pages 30 to 32 PHB says
    • strictures 6)

    "The monk must find and defeat in single combat, hand-to-hand, without weapons or magic items…" "The loser of these combats loses enough experience points to place him or her at the lowest number possible to attain the level just below the new level."

    • stunning

    "the monk has a chance to stun, or even kill, an opponent. An opponent is stunned by a monk for 1-6 (d6) melee rounds if the score of the monk’s ‘to hit’ die score exceeds the minimum number required by 5 or more."

Combat table

The combat tables show a 15% to 25% chance of stunning from levels 8 through 17. By level 9, a monk attacks twice per round or more. A monk could stun and then attack the stunned opponent up to 12 times at level 9 . This means the winner is effectively decided by the first one to stun.


Things I thought of as a Fair Competitive Advantage so far are:

  1. The character has a 16 CON, but the NPC has <= 14 CON. The character would get 2 extra HP per level. But any NPC that made it through 2 or more combats would likely have a 16 CON anyway.
  2. Module X2 Castle Amber has encounters that reward a chance for permanent +d4 hit points or a permanent bless ( +1 hit +1 damage +1 save ). This is not enough to overcome an unlucky stun or 2 stuns.
  3. Some combination of pummel, grapple, overbear and monk hand to hand. Does a monk get multiple pummel, grapple, overbear attacks per round as the monk advances levels? For example, do you overbear once and then attack hand-to-hand the rest of the combat?
  4. Oriental Adventures (OA) The book contains differentiated martial arts styles, damage and AC. This question is about advantages or style differences not in the OA. It’s fine if that is the best solution, just wanted to know about other alternatives too.
  5. Is there some ability, module, monster, or encounter that provides a permanent Save vs Paralyzation when stunned instead of automatic stun?
  6. Can a monk self-heal (Special Ability E) while stunned?
  7. Something else you have used.


Without an advantage, the monks have the same probability of hit points, same AC, same to-hit, and same damage. The winner is a coin toss, effectively doubling the experience needed for a monk to advance beyond level 8. What have you tried that allowed you to advance a monk through the higher levels?

3.5 Monk Ki Strike and Damage Resistance

Does a Level 4 Monk deal full damage against a creature with DR 5/Slashing?

From the D20 SRD regarding Damage Reduction: “The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. A certain kind of weapon can sometimes damage the creature normally, as noted below.”

At Level 4, the Monk gains Ki Strike as a supernatural ability, allowing the strikes to be treated as magical for the purposes of damage reduction.

However, does the bit about being treated as Magic matter? The strikes are now a supernatural ability, and supernatural abilities bypass damage reduction. This interpretation would seem to make Ki Strike very broad, and the addition of the Lawful characteristic at level 10 superfluous.

I would expect that a monk would not be able to bypass DR 5/Slashing, but Rules As Written seems to be murky.

A new ki idea for increasing monk damage 5th edition

Is this idea for a Ki option for a monk starting at 2nd level balanced? Based on playing experience, are there any foreseeable problems with it?

Iron Palm

Immediately before you take the attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to increase your unarmed strike damage dice to the next rank. This lasts until the end of your turn, and does not effect hand held weapons or other monk weapons only the unarmed strikes.

Does a monk with Unarmored movement still have to make strength checks to “run”/”climb” a wall?

If a Level 9 (or higher) monk, with the Unarmored Movement feature, wanted to climb a 1000-ft sheer cliff, would they have to make strength checks every turn to see if they continue climbing, fall, or stay where they are? Or would they just keep going without making checks?

(Related question.)

Adding Incarnum-like capability to my Level 1 Human Vow of Poverty Monk

I wanted to try Vow of Poverty and a monk because I liked the idea of an ascetic melee fighter, but the limitations of vow of poverty about using magic items is tough. I do not want to slow down the party and would like to balance VOP by using magic item alternatives such as incarnum. The master usually doesn’t use house rules, but I could try to be convincing.

How do I add incarnum to my planned 1st-level monk character? The DM has not yet specified how ability scores are going to be determined, but we are using flaws.

How to calculate Attack Bonus as a 5th Level Monk

Starting out at 5th level, and I am not sure how to calculate attack bonus. The reason I have this question is because with the Martial Arts feat(?) it says that I would use DEX instead of STR for attack and damage rolls, so do I use DEX when calculating my attack bonus? Or do I still use STR for calculating my attack bonus (for an unarmed strike).

Strength is 11, so the STR modifier is 0 whereas Dexterity is 18, so the DEX modifier is 4. Proficiency bonus is 3.

So would my unarmed attack bonus be 3 or 7? Or am I missing something completely?

What feats and class features can grant a half-orc monk natural attacks?

I want to play a half-orc monk who specializes in combining unarmed strikes with natural attacks. By monk, I mean I’d at least like the character to be enough of a monk so that he benefits from the special abilities AC bonus and flurry of blows.

Are there class features or feats that enable my dream of a serene master of fist, tusk, and claw?

How is movement calculated when running up walls as a monk?

Picture this circumstance. I am a 5 foot tall level 9 Wood Elf Monk with Mobile. I have 60 feet of speed per turn, via:

  • 35 feet from Wood Elf feature
  • 10 feet from the Mobile feat
  • 15 feet from being a level 9 monk

And can run on walls via the monk’s Unarmored Movement class feature.

I am 15 feet away from a medium sized melee combatant in a 5 foot wide corridor with a 20 foot high ceiling.

Avoiding all attacks of opportunity against me and without using any attacks from me and only the wall movement + speed listed, what is my maximum possible remaining movement to be on the other side of the combatant, out of range, with this setup?

To simplify this, I want to run up the wall, around the guy, without giving him a chance to hit me with his 5 foot range, and still have as much movement possible.

You know, normal Monk things.

My main concern is how the movement starts, and how diagonals work while wall running. Do I spend 5 feet to start “wall running” in the same square I’m in, or do I start by spending 5 feet to be 10 feet in the air? Can I simultaneously move forward while moving up?

I’ve also considered the potential of dropping while on the wall to conserve movement (presumably 10 feet past the combatant), and I want to suggest that for anyone to consider it themselves as a potential part of the answer.

Considering how abstract this question is, there may not be an official answer in 5e, but references to prior editions/Pathfinder on this topic would be valid substitutes.

Does “Shapen the blade” from the Kensai monk Affects a Defender?

The skills says:

At 11th level, you gain the ability to augment your weapons further with your ki. As a bonus action, you can expend up to 3 ki points to grant one kensei weapon you touch a bonus to attack and damage rolls when you attack with it. The bonus equals the number of ki points you spent. This bonus lasts for 1 minute or until you use this feature again. This feature has no effect on a magic weapon that already has a bonus to attack and damage rolls.

And the defender says:

The first time you attack with the sword on each of your turns, you can transfer some or all of the sword’s bonus to your Armor Class, instead of using the bonus on any attacks that turn. For example, you could reduce the bonus to your attack and damage rolls to +1 and gain a +2 bonus to AC. The adjusted bonuses remain in effect until the start of your next turn, although you must hold the sword to gain a bonus to AC from it.

One could argue that since you transfered the bonus to your AC, the weapon no longer has the bonus and its applicable to the Sharpen the blade effects.